A Useful Plug-in + Bonus Talk About School

Here is a link to the Jetpack plugin I mentioned in the podcast and a list of features. I don’t use all of them, but I use most.

What features does it have?

  • WordPress.com Stats: Simple, concise site stats with no additional load on your server.
  • Comments: enables your visitors to use WordPress.com, Twitter, or Facebook accounts when commenting on your site.
  • Subscriptions: Allow users to subscribe to your posts and comments to receive a notification via email.
  • Contact Form: Easily insert a contact form any where on your site.
  • Sharing: The most super duper sharing tool on the interwebs. Share content with Facebook, Twitter, and many more.
  • Spelling and Grammar: Improve your spelling, style, and grammar with the After the Deadline Proofreading service.
  • Gravatar Hovercards: Show a pop-up business card of your users’ gravatar profiles in comments.
  • Shortcode Embeds: Easily embed videos and more from sites like YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
  • WP.me Shortlinks: Enable WP.me-powered shortlinks for all of your Posts and Pages for easier sharing.
  • Beautiful Math: Mark up your posts with the markup language, perfect for complex mathematical equations and other über-geekery.
  • Extra Sidebar Widgets: Easily add images, Twitter updates, and your site’s RSS links to your theme’s sidebar.
  • Enhanced Distribution: Share your public posts and comments to search engines and other services in real-time.
  • Custom CSS: Customize the appearance of your site using CSS but without modifying your theme.

Some of these features use the powerful WordPress.com cloud, others are popular features provided for the convenience of not having to install and manage several separate plugin installations.

Private Versus Public School

During the second part of the podcast I share some thoughts about my children and their move from private school into the public school system.

Overall it has been a smooth transition. Since I have children in both elementary and middle school I can speak with some authority about what I have observed.

There is a definite and distinct difference in access to resources. That is not surprising, disheartening in some ways, but not surprising.

More importantly I can say I am quite pleased with the quality of the teachers. My kids are still receiving an excellent education, but there are adjustments.

The public school teachers aren’t as accessible. It is frustrating. I am not the parent that constantly chases or tries to speak with teachers, but when I reach out I expect to receive an answer or at least be acknowledged in a timely basis. That hasn’t been as good as it could be.

My son put his heart and soul into a project this week and was devastated because he bombed it.

What I want to figure out is why it happened. He had all A’s and one B’ on his 10 week report card so I can’t say he isn’t keeping up. Nor am I going to say he is well ahead because I don’t see that either.

So I am waiting for a response from the teacher so that we can figure out who was responsible for this.

It is possible my kid blew it on all accounts, but I won’t point the finger until I know for certain.

Meanwhile I made a promise to myself to be in bed by midnight so this post ends right here.

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  1. Carolyn November 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    We struggle with this issue too. We were a public school family till we lived in England and then got to experience private school for our kids there. Coming back to the US now we have our oldest daughter in private school and our younger daughters in public school. All are happy and doing well. You just have to find which is the best fit for the child. Unfortunately, that’s not always possible to know ahead of time.

    • Jack November 9, 2012 at 11:55 pm

      Hi Carolyn,

      Yes, it takes a bit of doing to figure out what works best and it is not uniform for the kids because they are all different.

      That is a great thing, but there are moments where I just wish it would be different, school is one of them.

      It is ok. When parents are active it all works itself out, but there are those moments where you just want to scream.

  2. bridgetstraub.com November 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Sometimes I wonder if your son is at the same school as my daughter. I’ve sent an email to her science teacher who has a tendency to announce everyone’s test scores thereby humilating those who don’t do well. I suspect he thinks this is motivation to do better but as I tried to explain to him, it’s damaging. Can’t wait to hear how he responds.

    • Jack November 9, 2012 at 11:50 pm

      Hi Bridget,

      That is terrible and it is not happening at my son’s school, or at least not in his classes. That sort of behavior would be enough for me to storm the castle walls and wreak havoc inside the office or at least until the principal did something about it.

      I hope your email wakes the teacher up. I don’t believe in coddling children or that everyone wins for showing up, but I don’t believe in using shame and humiliation to motivate people either.

  3. Joe November 9, 2012 at 6:52 am

    A few weeks into the school year, and my son has made a fairly smooth transition into a large public school. Hear that sigh of relief?

    Unfortunate that your teachers aren’t that accessible. My kids’ teachers are easy to reach by email with quick responses back. I’m like you, though, I don’t have a reason to be in constant contact.

    • Jack November 10, 2012 at 12:08 am

      Hi Joe,

      I hear that sigh of relief and will match it. Overall my son has done exceptionally well and is quite happy.

      That makes me happy too. I just want to connect with the teachers so that I can understand what happened on this blown assignment and see if there is a disconnect I can help with.

      It irks me because I am not the dad who says his kids can do no wrong, because mine can and do.

      They are smart and good kids. I haven’t any problem going to bat or helping them, but that means that I have to know when they are responsible for their issues. This struggle to communicate is making the teachers job and mine harder.

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